A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Friday, August 7, 2009

In Recovery Mode

My parents' visit was a success. My father stayed at my brother's house and my mother stayed with me. Richard and Kim did a great job of setting up my brother's house so that it would be comfortable for my father. Richard even reproduced family photographs and mounted them and put up shelves to display them in a sitting room. They also fixed up the bedroom downstairs in my house for my mother, painting the walls and everything. It gave me an excuse to go out and buy fresh sheets, a comforter, towels, etc... My mother was pleased with her room, the only drawback in both my house and my brother's house was that my parents had to climb stairs. At least I have a handrail, but my brother did not, so Richard installed one at my brother's house. I thought that was very considerate of him.

I actually cleaned and organized the upstairs in my house, but the only way that I got away with that was by storing a bunch of stuff in one of the bedrooms. My mother still complained that the house was too cluttered. She even said it wasn't fit for company, but I disagreed. Her standards are too high for me, even if I didn't suffer from a mental illness. But, on the whole, she seemed fairly comfortable. I set up a place for her to work on a jigsaw puzzle, which she loves to do. I did do a fair amount of driving, but except for the first night when I drove them from the airport to our houses in the dark and in the rain (which was very stressful for me), I didn't mind the driving. All of it was done during the daytime and the weather was good. I pretty much set up what we would do each day. I even made reservations for us several times and found that I wasn't as phone phobic as I usually am. I was proud of myself.

We saw the latest Harry Potter film, went to see a play, went on a boat ride, watched a couple of movies at my brother's house, but the real highlight was going out to eat. Every time we went out, we had a good to very good meal. I made a point of going to an Indian restaurant I've never been to for my father and brother's birthday. My brother was particularly grateful and I'd like to go back there again with him another time. And yes, I ate too much and so now it's back to regulating my diet and returning to exercise.

So my parents seemed well and were pleased with their visit and I didn't get stressed out this time. My voices have also been subdued and generally when they do speak up in my mind, they are supportive of me. I haven't had them telling me that I'm evil in months and the more they show consideration for me, the less I think ill of them. It has served me well to have compassion for them and to treat them with tolerance and kindness. I guess that's just the way I want to be. Though I am not Christian, my philosophy incorporates some of Christ's teachings to turn the other cheek and love those that abuse you. I have done it so often, that now I can coexist with them in relative harmony. It wasn't always that way. In the beginning of my psychosis I was filled with resentment, but, just as I didn't want to become consumed with hatred for my ex-boyfriend when he was abusing me, I didn't want to become a hateful person in relation to these mysterious voices. Negativity breeds negativity and prolongs symptoms. Acceptance and gratitude generate positive outcomes. Of course, when you are being attacked by the voices, cultivating acceptance and gratitude can be quite a challenge, but it is possible with practice. If I can do it, I know others can do it. There is hope.

The day before my parents arrived, I met with a NAMI president of a nearby county for lunch. I told her some of my story and she told me some of her story. I found out that she is a social worker and that her son suffers from schizophrenia, but is in the process of recovering. I felt fairly confident talking to her and she seemed to respond to me, but ultimately she can't really help me start a support group. I would have to go through a 3 day intensive training program with another person who suffers from mental illness and not only don't I know another person in my area, but the training programs are few and far between and I would have to travel quite a distance to get to one. The next one appears to be next year in Albany and I don't want to wait that long. Ms. Stanley did say that there is a couple who suffers from Bi-Polar Disorder who regularly comes to her monthly meeting. I met them briefly. They want to start a group in their town, but I'm still set on starting one in my town. Ms. Stanley gave me their phone number (they don't have a computer...), but I haven't had the courage to call them yet. First I want to make appointments to see if I can find a meeting place either through the local churches or through the town hall. I've been doing so well lately, I might just be ready to try this. I'll have to put some pressure on myself in the next couple of weeks.

It's also past time to get back to painting. Nancy has commissioned me to paint a portrait of her father and her nephew. Tonight I worked on a portrait of Richard's friend with his arm around his daughter. I drew the portrait a month ago, but didn't like the drawing and so I put it aside, but tonight I decided I needed some practice, so I began painting.
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